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Using the IF Worksheet Function

Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: Using the IF Worksheet Function.

Excel provides a wide range of worksheet functions you can use. One of the most versatile worksheet functions is IF. This function allows you to test some condition, and then use a value if the condition is true or a different value if the condition is false. For instance, consider the following example:

=IF(A2<C2,"Too low","")

Notice that IF requires three arguments, each separated by commas. The first argument (in this example, A2<C2) is the conditional test. If the test proves true, then the second argument (in this case, the test string "Too low") is used. If the test proves false, then the third argument (in this case, an empty string) is used. In other words, if the value in cell A2 is lower than the value in cell C2, then this formula returns the string "Too low." Otherwise, it returns an empty string.

You are not limited, of course, to returning strings in an IF function. You can return any value you want, including the values stored in other cells. For example:


In this case, if A2 is less than C2, then the value derived by subtracting B7 from B6 is returned. If A2 is not less than C2, then the value 43 is returned.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2347) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) here: Using the IF Worksheet Function.

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Comments for this tip:

James McMichael    26 Dec 2015, 08:45
Note that the IF statement can also be nested up to seven times to test multiple conditions. For example IF(A<B, C, IF(A<C, A, C)) and so on. If nested more than seven deep the last FALSE condition will always be returned. When necessary to go deeper than seven nested IF statement one can use cell referencing to add additional levels of embedding. Note that in many cases there will be more efficient ways to test conditions once beyond a certain point.

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